Sunday, July 17
Got up this morning and enjoyed a hot breakfast thanks to the Hampton Inn in Fresno. This time no choc chips to add to my waffle… so I just had a quarter of Tim’s… There was a girl sitting at the table beside us with a huge pile of hash browns on her plate. Didn’t see them when I went through….didn’t see any more come out. Oh well. Got a poor man’s Starbucks with my breakfast (hot chocolate mix add coffee with a touch of whip cream). Yum!
We headed to Sequoia National Park first thing today. Very interesting drive into the park area. Drove by a recreation area called Sliding Rock and a man-made lake where more people were enjoying the outdoors.
About a mile or so from the entry to the park, we are sitting in traffic. (again)
We finally get through the entrance and go to the Visitor Center first.
I am standing with a retired music teacher waiting in the dreaded line to get to the ladies’ restroom. Inside there are two stalls. TWO STALLS. That’s just crazy. She and I are talking….she had been to band competitions in Knoxville and had marched in the Dogwood Arts festival. Not sure if she was speaking about when she was a student or if that was during her teaching years. I love how you can meet a total stranger so many miles from home and sometimes have a similar connection!
Tim finds a t-shirt, I have another magnet for my collection, and we are on our way to the Giant Forest.
Of course, we still had 17 more miles to get there, and about 5,000 feet of elevation to gain. Most of the time it was 15-25 mph over multiple switchbacks and some hairy stretches where there were no guardrails. I tried to be a calm as I could, but I was white-knuckling it most of the way. The views were spectacular at the places we could stop. Couldn’t actually look while driving for fear of becoming part of that landscape. Kim snapped away to help keep her mind off the road.
Parking is crazy here, but we finally find a place. We pull out our leftovers from the Dog House Grill from last night and have a mini-picnic before we hit the trail.
There is a tree there called the General Sherman tree. It is supposed to be the largest mass live object on earth. It isn’t as tall as the tree we saw in the Armstrong Woods close to Windsor, but it is still so very impressive! (There are trees that are taller and trees that have bigger girth, but the General Sherman Tree is the largest living thing on the planet by volume– 52,500 cubic feet.) There is a .5 mile walk to the tree on a paved and stair walkway. Going there is a total breeze….downhill. I know this will be a killer on the way back.
So many beautiful trees that are humongous, that you keep wondering “is that it?!” As a woodworker, I love trees, and I was completely awestruck by the size of these monsters. There are several giant redwoods nearby that are just as impressive.
At a lookout within sight of the Sherman Tree was an illustration, in pavers, of the actual footprint of the base of the tree.
We soon came upon the massive star of the show and had to share the space with a large number of folks.
We finally arrive there and stand in line for someone to take our picture. The dad with this family who took our picture was a hoot. They were from Maryland. We got their picture with our camera while I was shooting them with theirs…
A (stupidly weird) thing, by the way — The current book I am reading is an excellent biography of…General W.T. Sherman.
There are so many nationalities walking this path. SO many languages you hear on your way. Makes me curious as to what countries just the people we saw in our 2+ hours there were from.
So then, it was time to travel back up the path. I was definitely right. Had to stop every so often to catch our breath coming back up the hill to the parking area. I think the deal was we went down elevation wise the height of the tree….275 feet. Of course we walked a lot more than that! It was interesting along the way they had signage that would point out where you were related to the height of the tree depending on how far you had been on the trail. That probably made no sense. I hope we have a picture of what I am saying. I’m sure Tim can state that much clearer than I just attempted! The tree was so far below us at the beginning of the trail that we were about even with the top to start. As we descended, there were markers that mentioned what part of the tree we were level with at that point. Whatever.
Earlier in the day, Kim found the t-shirt that she wanted at the Visitor Center but they didn’t have one in her size. The folks mentioned another gift shop at the Lodgepole Center, a mile past the General Sherman Tree. We tried the Lodgepole Visitor Center that was a mile up the way from where we parked to see the Sherman tree to find the t-shirt I had fallen in love with but my size was sold out. (They gave her the web address to order it).
By this time, we have spent most of the day here and we still had a long way to go, plus dinner. Oh. I didn’t mention the CRAZY road to get to this place. I do believe it has to compare to the Dragon’s Tail on the TN/NC border or the Road to Hana in Hawaii. So many stupid, stinkin’ switchbacks. (You remember how much I do hate those things, right???) I do love the beauty of the mountains, but I am so over the roads on them!
We get to the bottom of this crazy “ride” and are headed to Visalia for supper. Again, we try tripadvisor.com for a suggestion of where to go. The number one spot is a brewery/pub called Brewbakers. We are able to park in a lot across the street and up the way just a tad from the restaurant. Kinda concerned about all our stuff packed in the car with some concert going on in an area attached to a different restaurant. (It turned out to be fine!)
This is a two-level restaurant, and our table is on the second floor. We are seated beside a group of 6 ladies who sound like they are all teachers. Seems like teachers have the same concerns and hoops to jump through no matter what state they are teaching.
After a good meal, we are on the road to Indio. Our ETA in Indio is between 1 and 2am. It constantly gets later depending on how many stops we make to stretch our legs.
We opt to take I-5…”How much traffic can be on the road at this time of night?!?!” Well, it was pretty crazy with a butt load of tractor trailers. I get driving duty for an hour and a half which gets up very close to Los Angeles. Then Tim gets to enjoy the traffic for an hour or so. I drive the last hour and a half and bring us into Indio to the WorldMark there around 2:30am. We are so tired.
We get to our room and the stupid keys won’t work. The green light comes on, but the door doesn’t budge. We go back to the registration area and get some help there. They send a cart to our area (no cart originally there to unload all our stuff). We unload about half the car and the cart appears for the last half. It’s 3:00 now and we are finally in our room, somewhat settled.
After taking showers, we just die when our heads hit the pillows… Oh such a nice, comfy bed…. zzzzzzzzzzzzzz